Quick-serve sandwich shop Subway is known for its healthy food options and its many locations. The company operates more than 30,000 restaurants in 91 countries, making it one of the largest franchise operators in the world. The company's commitment to live events and face-to-face meetings with its franchisees helps Subway maintain brand and customer experience consistency, says Michelle DiNello, director of corporate communications.
"We have a lot of ways we connect with our internal customers [the franchisees]," she says. Working with event company inVNT, Subway hosts an annual convention, in which all operators are invited to attend sessions, meet with partners and vendors, network with each other, and try new menu items. "Our customers are looking, touching, and tasting what we have to offer."
Joel Whitten, meetings and events manager, adds that the convention offers the type of access among peers that can't be duplicated virtually. "Our customers meet with their peers, network, and talk about their similar issues," he says. "It's very valuable."
In addition, the company conducts numerous smaller events throughout the year including webinars, conference calls, and face-to-face meetings differentiated by customer groups, such as multi-unit owners or region. DiNello says that in August the company hosted 12 conference calls, for example, to discuss new menu items, pricing, and other pertinent topics. In addition, her team created "meetings in a box," which bundles videos, PowerPoint presentations, and other materials for district managers to bring with them when they visit stores in person.
Even with the economic downturn, Subway has not changed its event planning strategy, DiNello says, and plans to continue with the same number of events as in the past. "We're a worldwide company," she says, adding that events help to keep consistency across all Subway properties. As far as events go, "It's business as usual."